Nov 7, 2009

House Vote on Healthcare Bill

Does anyone else find it disturbing that a vote in the House to restructure one sixth of the economy was passed 218-214 (with 4 left not voting)?

Shouldn't more people be in support of something this ridiculously massive?

UPDATE: 219-214. One Republican 'yea'--probably Joseph Cao (LA-2)

UPDATE II:220-215
; all votes in. Passes by three.

UPDATE III: It was Joseph Cao. Tough call for him--conservative in a solidly liberal district (only elected because the previous congressman, Rep. William Jefferson, had hidden thousands of dollars of money in his freezer. Cao voted his district, which I believe is the right thing to do, as much as I disagree with the bill. There are many, many other congressmen who just spit in their constituents' faces this evening, though.

UPDATE IV: Reflections on Cao's vote:

Republican Whip Eric Cantor just released a statement expressing his 'disappointment' in Rep. Cao. I have to say that, while I understand Cantor's need to say that to allay the conservative base of the party, the logic doesn't follow. One of the biggest Republican arguments (correct in my mind) against the health reform bill is that a majority of Americans doesn't support it. If Congress is going to truly represent the people, it must respond to their wishes on an issue. Given that over 50% of the electorate continues to be against this one in poll after poll, it seems not only odd, but frankly abhorrent, that a majority of Congress would choose to be for it. That's one of the philosophical underpinnings of the Republicans' opposition.

However, that is exactly what Rep. Cao did, and Cantor should recognize that. He actually listened to his constituents. I thank God that we don't have a system like that in Israel, where you vote for a party instead of an individual. Instead, we choose exactly who we want to represent us. Cao was elected by a very, very liberal district. He is, philosophically, a conservative, but he is also a their representative. It is right that he should listen to them, however foolish their opinions may be.

Now, it's certainly a difficult balance to strike. Sometimes, a representative must vote against what his/her constituents want. That's part of the system. The people at large don't have as good of information as those in Congress. They may not understand all the ramifications of a change in the U.S. Code. However, that doesn't mean congressmen can simply ignore them. I remember a story (maybe misremembered or apocryphal) about George H.W. Bush, while serving as a representative from Texas and having to cast a vote for the Civil Rights Bill. His constituents were dead-set against it, but he voted for it, telling them that they voted for him as a person with a set of beliefs, not simply for a lever to do whatever a majority chooses. It's the difficulty of governing. Rep. Cao had a tough choice to make. In this case, since I believe that especially in the House of Representatives the people should reign, I support Cao's decision, as much as I despise the outcome.

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